By Christina Goulter, Andrew Gordon and Gary Sheffield
In truth, the notion that in John Keegan's words 'some 2500 young pilots had alone been responsible for preserving Britain from invasion' has long been disputed by historians. As far back as 1958 Duncan Grinnell-Milne made the case for the principal role of the RN [Royal Navy] in preventing invasion, and two years later Captain Stephen Roskill, the British Official Historian, argued for the primacy of 'lack of adequate [German] instruments of sea power' and the knowledge of their use in the thwarting of Operation Sealion. A few years later Telford Taylor produced what is still probably the most thorough study of the question, in which he integrated [put together] the air and maritime dimensions [aspects]. Wing Commander H.R. Allen, himself a Spitfire pilot, published in 1974 a controversial book on the subject. Allen defined the Battle of Britain widely, to encompass more than just the air battle, and concluded that the importance of the air and maritime dimensions had been respectively exaggerated and underestimated.